Nikita Kolesnikov

Nikita Kolesnikov — Dynamic Pixels

Game designer, level designer, writer, sometimes concept artist and composer in Hello Neighbor.

Voronezh, Russia

What led you to the game dev industry and how did you become a game designer?

I’ve entered the industry in the end of 2011. I was a magazine editor at that time — not exactly what I wanted to dedicate myself to. But as it usually happens in life, sometimes the destiny has to kick you so that you found out that we live only once and you have to live it listening to your real wishes. And my wish from the very early childhood was creating of videogames. And then I just rose up and walked. And I walked into Dynamic Pixels, where I’m currently in. I’ve come here as a 2D artist and during 3 years I’ve become a 2D-3D artist and then 3D animation, and later — game design.

What does a typical day look like?

It’s not easy to say something specific. Every working day is not like another. The only thing that connects all those days together is the fact that I arrive to workplace. And what’s next? Whatever happens. Usually I mark the main task (-s) of the day and based on that I plan the whole day.

What's your setup?

My workplace has two parts: portable and stationary.

Portable:

  • Gigabyte Aero 15X laptop
  • Logitech MX Master 2S mouse
  • Wacom Intuos S Bluetooth graphics tablet
  • Sony 1000XM2 headphones

This setup allows me to accomplish almost any work wherever I want to and ideally fits in the backpack (which is, by the way, an OGIO Renegade Rss — very recommended).

Stationary:

  • That’s some kind of crazy server mutant, which I’m afraid of looking inside, but I know for sure there are 2 CPUs 10 cores each, 64 Gb RAM and 1080 from Nvidia. I use it along with the laptop — it allows to speed up and simplify some of the development aspects
  • External audio card Scarlett 2i2 for recording
  • Samsung SyncMaster SA850 and SyncMaster 226BW displays
  • And a few musical instruments (acoustic and electric guitars, bass, Yamaha P-45 piano and Bach trumpet)

That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Which apps and services do you use most to complete your main tasks?

From the software I use:

  • Unreal Engine, our main foundation, which we can’t live without
  • Blender, best 3D editor in the world
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Ableton Live 9 Lite for recording and mastering
  • Guitar Rig for guitar effects
  • All the documents are created online in Google services

This is the main pack of software, which is required at all times.

Where do you gain inspiration from?

Actually from everywhere. From music, people in the street, life situations, movies, art works. But I’m also inspired a lot by Nintendo games and their brave experiments, which other developers are afraid of trying.

When and how do you start working on a new feature? Could you describe the process?

I try to write down in notes all ideas that come into my head, and then later during the working process I come back to them, searching for something useful.

During development I try to go from the general to specific. Holding on the main aspect — feelings. A game or a feature has to bring out the right experience even at the very early stage of development. When the feature is completely described and very well understood by myself, then I discuss it with the developer for prototyping. I think the approach here is quite trivial.

Which games have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

I think that one of the most extraordinary games with wonderful game design is The Legend of Zelda: BOTW for Nintendo Switch. This is an amazing game with an excellent and fresh approach to the progression and exploration of the game world. Once you feel that freedom, it’s very difficult to come back to other games.

What achievements in your career are you most proud of?

Hello Neighbor. This is my first game. It went down a long and difficult path. It’s a very big part of my life.

If you could change one thing about your career, what would it be?

All the same things I did, but 10 years earlier 🙂

Which recent task turned out to be much difficult than you expected?

Working on a game for several platforms at the same time. Without creating additional branches. This task still seems to me as one of the most difficult and important for the developer in regards to players.

How are the disputes about variants of feature design solved in your company?

Difficult to say as the arguments are a rare thing. But if they happen, then nothing supernatural. We’re all reasonable people. Everyone states their point and views and in the end the actually right option is chosen.

What do you do to self-improve in game design?

I play games and try to keep my mind fresh and open to experiments.

What music do you listen to whilst designing?

If I work with texts, then something with no text: sound of massages, people drawing, etc. Those help to free the mind.

If I work with something else, then it’s creepypastas, which are read on YouTube, or just some ghost stories.

For some reason I fail to listen to the music. It requires a lot of involvement and then neither forwards nor backwards.

If a game designer would want to apply to your company, what would you advise him?

Be honest and be human.

Any advice for game designers in general?

Throw away all the industry standards, don’t be afraid to create something new, understand well why you do what you do and do what you love to do.

Traditionally we ask to take a picture of your working place. Could you please share a picture of yours?

How can people contact you?

One can write to me in Discord: grandeturisto #6899, I’m always online.